Category Archives: United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Fringe Arts Bath – PhotoMarathon

Bath is a great city. It has thousands of years of history, is a World Heritage City, and is very popular with tourists from all over the world.

The local Arts and Music scene is also exceptional. The Bath Literature Festival has just finished, the International Music Festival is coming up, and so is the Fringe Arts Festival, which is the pre-eminent annual visual arts event.

There is also an excellent new group, Photo|Bath, planning a range of activities, including an exhibition later this year.

PhotoMarathon 2016 1600 -2

So yesterday, it was a lot of fun, and more than a little challenging, to be part of the PhotoMarathon, organised by Fringe Arts Bath.

The idea was to take 20 photographs to illustrate a given idea in a fixed sequence. Some were fairly straightforward – “shadows”, “texture”,  “reflection” – and some required real thought – “I wish…”, “undercover”, “contrast”.

PhotoMarathon 2016 1600 -3

I took the opportunity to blend the challenge with my ongoing street portrait work. Bride-to-be Tracey and her friends were happy to oblige.

PhotoMarathon 2016 1600 -5

And having to do things in sequence meant that even if you saw something better, later, you couldn’t use it unless you wanted to start all over again. So, having a few favourite places in Bath was useful knowledge.

PhotoMarathon 2016 1600 -7

I opted to shoot everything with the Leica SL and the Vario-Elmarit 24-90, rather than carry a bag full of kit. The flexibility and close focussing of the two was perfect, and the zoom gives a very nice bokeh when shot wide open.

PhotoMarathon 2016 1600 -8

We were given 10 hours to complete the task, in two sessions, although a few of us opted to go straight through with all 20 images. My iPhone told me that I had walked almost 6 miles around the city, and it took about 6 hours to fully complete the task.

At the end, we gave either the unexposed film or the 20 raw, unedited images to the FaB organisers. No editing allowed, and the files all had to be clearly in the sequence of the challenge set.

Everyone’s images will be printed out by the organisers, and they will all be exhibited as part of Bath’s Fringe Arts Festival, 27th May until 12th June.

I Wish …
PhotoMarathon 2016 1600 -9

The challenge also got me looking anew at people and places I know well. This protest group are by the Abbey most Saturdays, and with “I Wish …” as the photo challenge, there seemed to be a different meaning in how I viewed their cause.

PhotoMarathon 2016 1600 -16

I also visited a few places that I hadn’t been to in Bath before, like the Victoria Art Gallery.

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Some images seemed to pop into my mind quickly. But for some I had to wait, and keep shooting. In “reflection” I think I must have taken 20 or more shots before the lady actually looked properly at her hair in the mirror.

PhotoMarathon 2016 1600 -19

Yesterday was also the final day for entry to the Bath Open Art competition, which I entered, thanks to prompting from Anna Kot. The fun and the sunshine meant it was a great day for photography in Bath.

You can find all of my 20 images here (and I admit to the odd bit of cropping 🙂

Also posted in Art, Leica, Local & Bath, Photography Tagged , , , , |

Nikon D810 with Nikkor 70-200mm

Just been giving the Nikon D810 a serious whirl.

I have had the D810 from its launch, having been a “Nikon Guy” since the mid 1980s. And one of the system’s most important lenses (to me, at least) is the the 70-200mm F/2.8 Nikkor.

Recently, though, I have been rather pre-occupied with my Leica’s, especially the new Q, which is a fantastic tool. So, it was good to go into “re-discovery mode”.  The Nikon results are sharp, with a very nice bokeh, good noise handling, and very neutral colour (if a tad contrasty occasionally). And the D810 with the Nikkor is super easy to handle, with what must be the quietest shutter on a DSLR. The D810 has fast autofocus even in challenging light, and I especially enjoy the 5-point group setting.

I had also forgotten how well balanced the ergonomics are. Much as I love my Leica’s, Nikon rules, here. The critical camera controls are all set the old fashioned way, on the fly, without resorting to menus, and without taking your eye from the finder. I also tend to hold the Nikon by its grip, slung low when carrying, and it always feels secure.

Last weekend I went along to Westonbirt to take an autumn series. Later, back home I thought I would also experiment with different processing.

First, pretty much as shot, slightly cropped and levels adjusted to bring detail to the highlights. The sensor and in-camera processor in the D810 is maybe not quite as “forgiving” as the Leica Q in dynamic range, but seems ahead of my Leica M-P.

Of course, shooting a Nikkor zoom against a Noctilux prime is a bit unfair, but I am sometimes tempted to post images without saying which camera and lens was used, and see what happens!

Pampas Drama -3

Then, using Color Efex Pro, increasing the drama, colour and tension in the shot.

Pampas Drama WM -2

And, finally, with Tonality Pro, my current favourite B&W processing tool.

I actually think I like this the most …

Pampas Drama WM -1

Shot taken at 200mm, 1/8000th, F/4.0, ISO 1250

Also posted in B&W, Color Efex Pro, Local & Bath, Nikon, Photography, Tonality Pro Tagged , , , , , |

Portrait “Shootout” with Digital Camera Magazine

Page 1 & 2
A few weeks ago, I was happy to be included in a Shootout” on natural light portraiture, organised by Digital Camera Magazine.

Ed Heffer was the other photographer involved, and the event was orchestrated by the affable and very knowledgeable Ben Brain, Editor of the magazine. The resulting article has just been published in the November edition.

It was a lot of fun, and I learnt many new things. We were at the Holbourne Museum in Bath, and the adjoining Sydney Gardens. I decided to stick with one camera and one lens (Leica M-P, with Noctilux 50mm F/1.0). The Noctilux is a wonderful lens, with an amazing bokeh at wide apertures, but it is not the easiest to use. Still, I enjoyed both the challenge and the results.

We worked with two models, Holly and Claire.

With Holly, I was intent on getting softly lit portraits against a dark background. Perhaps because I was getting more into the swing of things, with Claire we then moved around a lot, and tried both close in portraits and full length shots.

Ben was there to help Ed and myself do better work, in particular experimenting with fill-in light from reflectors of different shades and sizes. That’s not something I have a lot of experience with, but it is definitely something I will do more of in future. Really helped soften those harsh, late afternoon shadows.

Of course, the magazine also needed to create an article which showed the readers some of the techniques we used. So we found ourselves being photographed rather a lot as well.

The magazine choose two of my close-in images to display and discuss. First, Holly. We used a silver reflector, though I think the effect is still very natural.


Then, Claire. A large silver reflector was used, which not only dealt with facial shadows but also nicely illuminated some detail in Claire’s coat.


There were other shots that I really was pleased with, too. Whilst I scouted the gardens for unusual spots, Claire really helped me to think through the poses. This also used a small white reflector on Claire’s face to soften shadows. Thanks, Ben, for holding it at quite a challenging angle!


And I cannot resist posting this. When I asked Claire to “Give me the finger”, There was a moment of “… really”? But the shot was worth it, especially given the graffiti background 🙂

Here’s more on the article posted in the magazine, and a sampling of the images I took.

And here’s the full Holly and the Claire set.

Also posted in Graffiti, Leica, Lightroom, Local & Bath, Photography, Portrait Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

The Signs of Bath

Bath is a World Heritage Site, identified by UNESCO in 1987. As such, it is one of the most visited and photographed Cities in England. That doesn’t stop it also being one of the most beautiful, and a surprisingly easy City to live in for locals like myself.

This project is to take a closer look at the Signs of Bath.

The full Project album is here

The Abbey, watched over by the “Living Statue”, Stevan Mortensen

Bath Signs 4

Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases …. and Bats 🙂

Bath Signs 1

Upper Borough Walls

Bath Signs 2

The Georgian Spa and Abbey

Bath Signs 3

All images Leica M-P, Noctilux F/1.0, processed in Silver Efex Pro.

The full Project album is here

Also posted in B&W, Leica, Local & Bath, Photography, Street photography, Travel Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

She wanted me to shoot her moods



I was on a Leica Meet. It was the first time the group had done a multiple day event, as previously it had been one-day shoots, and usually street. There were 7 of us – Olaf, Stephen, Steven, Santiago, Glen and Clarke. The group had first met on Facebook, and is now over 7,000 strong, with members from all over the world. What do we have in common? A passion for photography, a sense of fun and camaraderie, a desire to learn – and we all shot Leica!

The Leica Meet have published a fascinating paper on how the participants tackled the event, what they shot, and how they felt about the group. Download it here.



It was fun – but it was also a test. A test of technical expertise and photographic vision. In just three short days we experienced clear blue skies, 75mph winds, powerful rain, sleet and bitter cold. And we loved it all!



I really didn’t go to Skye with a detailed shooting plan, as I wanted to have a “Beginner’s Mind”, using what expertise I have whilst being open to new ideas. I also knew that the talented group making the trip would be full of ideas and good advice.

So my only prior decision was to try to actually “see” what Skye wanted me to shoot. It turned out that the Isle wanted me to show her at her spirited best.

Old Man of Storr

Old Man of Storr

I mainly shot digital, with some film, using an M-P, and an M6, and a range of glass. The Noctilux F/1.0 is a lens I both love and find supremely difficult, so some shots had to be taken with that. Not surprisingly, it turned out that my best Nocti shots were of my team mates, usually in the bar!

My wife had just presented me with a Voigtlander 21mm Ultron, especially for the trip. I had heard great things about the lens, and the Skye experience confirmed them all. It is a superb optic, perfectly suited to capture the big skies and the angry seas.

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle

The best point of the Meet? That was the camaraderie around our creative endeavours. I learned a huge amount, and friendships were cemented, whether struggling with tripods at dawn, or considering techniques over the inevitable malts. The Leica Meet attracts such talented people, of all ages, and the love for photography was evident in all.

The worst part? Not having enough time to really push the Voigtlander!

Next time …

Download the Leica Meet summary

All images taken with the Leica M-P, processed in Lightroom with split-toning.

See my complete gallery here

Also posted in B&W, Leica, Leica Meet, Lightroom, Photography, Scotland, Travel Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |